Tagxedo: For Well-Dressed Word Clouds
So of course you’re familiar with Wordle’s beautiful word clouds, but have you tried Tagxedo? Tagxedo is an alternative word cloud creator that offers additional options for your word clouds such as shapes and words. It’s kind of like Wordle meets ImageChef. You can acquire your text from a text file, website, or copy and paste it into Tagxedo. To upload from a document, you must first save as a plain text file, not as a regular Word document, and even then I was not successful with this option. Don’t you just love beta? Maybe Tagxedo was just having a bad upload day. Acquiring text from websites and copying and pasting worked beautifully, however.
Once your text is inserted, there are various options for handling your text, such as removing punctuation, common words, and numbers. You can even save the same word multiple times, such as a school name or important concept, adjust the word options so that identical words are not combined, adjust the layout options so that all fonts are utilized, ask Tagxedo to kindly normalize frequency, and voila, you have a lovely word cloud of the single word.
Tagxedo works like Wordle to combine words using the tilde (~) symbol to keep related words together in the word cloud. I created clouds with the word “read” (obviously) and my school initials. Since my media center logo is “Ask DR library,” I created a word cloud of that phrase using a question mark for the shape. No problem. Students studying Africa, for example, could upload a shape of Africa or the word “Africa,” and then create a word cloud of important concepts. This even provides the opportunity about discussing copyright, because we don’t want our students borrowing those shapes inappropriately now, do we?
One feature I especially liked was the “history” feature that allowed me to review all of my previous options and select the best of all possible views. There are also numerous options for saving the word cloud in various sizes and file formats. Sadly, the embed codes only work in some formats–see Tagxedo’s forum comments for details. Wikispaces isn’t one of them, and that’s the only place I tried it so far. Embeds would (presumably) allow some of the cool features of the word cloud that you can’t see in the saved .jpg image, such as word spins (if the word is not horizontal) and zooms when you hover over words in the cloud.
Tagxedo’s creator Hardy Leung has a very impressive resume, and he has a new Web 2.0 tool coming up soon called Coloroke. He has also created a helpful blog, idea gallery, and FAQ to accompany Tagxedo.
Ruth Fleet, Ed. S.
National Board Certified Library Media Teacher
Dean Rusk Middle School